Monday, 11 August 2014


How time flies….  I hadn't planned to have such a gap in posts,  though it's true that life in the garden slows down in winter.  This year the cold weather came late but when it did come,  it was very cold.  We have had the coldest night (with a frost) for 126 years this year.   The garden is still producing enough food for me,  though, with the cold temperatures,  it seems to be occurring in slow motion.  I keep thinking back to the Q10 temperature coefficient that I learned about so many years ago.  Chemical reactions are slowed by reduction in temperature.  Biological reactions have a Q10 value of about 2 ~ 3.  This means that reactions in biological systems are more-or-less doubled for every 10C degrees in temperature.
As an aside,  this is the reason that warm blooded animals have been fairly successful… their chemical reactions are maintained at the same rate no matter what temperature it is "outside" the body.  Lizards and snakes and other "cold blooded animals" need to "shut up shop" in cold weather and wait to be able to warm up using the sun (solar) energy.
The same thing applies to plants and there are a number of strategies for plants to survive cold weather. (Hot weather is a whole other issue and I'm not thinking about that here.)  In cold weather,  plants have a slowed metbolsim too… they grow more slowly, some live as annuals, dyng of the cold and leaving seeds to wait for warmer weather and some are just able to survive, despite the cold days (even frosts) though growing more slowly and unevenly,  depending upon the particular season.
So this year,  cultivated vegetables have grown well around here until the last 6 weeks.  The early part of the winter was unseasonably warm and despite the shorter days (less ultraviolet light for photosynthesis) the vegetables plants grew well.  Now that the weather has changed and weather (especially nights) have been so cold… a few nights have been less than 0C… just!    The Q10 issue has kicked in though,  and plants,  with no temperature regulation system to speak of, have slowed down considerably… some plants more than others,  but the whole gardening agenda has slowed as well.
Food these days is different from summer.  There are no fresh tomatoes.  I did see some in the local shop the other day and even those (glasshouse "tennis balls") were off-putting.  I can't imagine buying tomatoes in the middle of winter!  The description of tomatoes being the "last straw" is best described in the first chapter of the book by Thomas F. Pawlick, "The End of Food" which I would recomment to anyone interested in food and nutrition.  Pawlick was able to bounce the tomatoes that he had bought off the back fence,  despite leaving them to ripen for a week.  "It bounced off, undamaged, like a not-very-springy red tennis ball."
But that is a digression.  I eat winter vegetables (and some that I have preserved during the summer) in this colder weather. That means potatoes, beetroot, carrots,  onions, leeks, leafy greens (silverbeet, parsley and kale  don't seem to mind frosts) and there are still a couple of cauliflowers and some cabbages… no summer treats,  but they will be here later, and all the more appreciated for the expectation!
The typical collection of food for dinner in recent days is something like this….
 … and the "tops" of the beetroots are the "leafy green" vegetable and, as the chickens are still laying a few eggs, dinner is very very easy.

I have been pulling the carrots from the current rows in a funny sort of order.   They have grown really well from a packet of seeds from Diggers.  one of the plants was a bit odd….
….  it turned out that one of the seeds was a dill seed.   I have never been a fan of dill,  and so I hadn't grown it.  It turns out though,  that fresh dill is nothing like the bought kind… and especially different from the dill that is used to flavour pickles and preserved vegetables.  This fresh stuff is completely different.  I roasted the vegetables for dinner sitting on a cushion of dill instead of my usual rosemary and it is very, very good.

The next two rows of carrots don't seem to include any dill plants….
despite this being the other half of the same seed packet as the other couple of rows of carrots…. so I may let this "feral" plant go to seed…. and sed saving is a whole other issue…  and more of that later.

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